|The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet. — Frederick Buechner
Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. — Joshua 24:15
Jesus’ reply was conventional:
And this is when Jesus nailed him. “One thing you lack,” he told the self-righteous young man.
But Jesus’ words hung in the air: “One thing you lack… Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor… Then come, follow Me.”
Jesus had looked into the man’s soul and diagnosed the condition of his heart. You see, on the outside he was doing all the right things, but on the inside his heart was divided. His possessions and his position were competing with God for primacy. He had surrendered his outward behavior to God, but his commitment to him was not absolute. He had not made a total surrender of self; he had not bet the farm. I don’t believe Jesus was saying that all of us have to sell everything we have and give it to the poor. No, Jesus was looking into the heart of this particular young man, and Jesus saw that the young man had not relinquished his life unconditionally. For him, his status and stuff had become idols. Most troubling of all was the very next line in Matthew’s account:
Are you willing to be open to God’s will for your life?
Jesus wanted everything; He always has. You lack one thing, Rich. Sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven. Then come, follow Me. Quitting my job, selling my house, and moving my family to serve at World Vision was uncomfortably equivalent to what Jesus had asked of this other rich young man. Can you see why I wanted to run for the scissors when I read this story in the Bible?
Over the past few years I have spoken with quite a few men and women who have heard my story and called me because they, too, want to go from success to significance1 by serving God more directly. Often they have decided that they want to move into ministry of some sort and invest themselves full-time in Christian work.
So I ask them a few questions: “Will you relocate? How important is title and salary? Are you willing to work where most needed?”
Invariably they reply with a list of conditions. Usually it sounds something like this: “Well, we’re very committed to staying in the Atlanta area. All of our friends are here, and we have spent years getting our house just right. Our kids are in a very special private school, and we don’t want to move them. We waited six years to join the country club, and now we’re members. We couldn’t take too big of a pay cut and still maintain our lifestyle… But other than that, we’re wide open to serve.” I really understand where they are coming from, because these are many of the same issues that weighed heavily on my mind as I wrestled with my call to World Vision. But the lesson I learned was that God expects us to serve Him on His terms — not ours. In fact, He dealt with this clearly in Luke:
He said to another man, “Follow Me.” But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.”
Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” — Luke 9:57-62
1. Bob Buford, a Texas businessman, coined the phrase “from success to significance” in his wonderful book Halftime: Changing Your Game Plan from Success to Significance (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997), to describe a different goal for people who have succeeded in their secular careers.
Excerpted with permission from The Hole in Our Gospel by Rich Stearns, copyright World Vision.
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Have you turned to God in absolute surrender? What are you still holding onto? What might He be able to do through your life if you let go and followed Him no matter the cost? What is He calling you towards? Come share with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily